Yesterday at the annual Produced By conference, X-Men producers Lauren Schuler Donner and Ralph Winters discussed movies 'n' more in the alluringly titled Raising Your Tentpole: Producing Motion Picture Franchises panel.
And in one of the more interesting and amusing stories from the conference, Winters revealed some bizarre "would-have-been" casting news for the original 2000 X-Men movie . . .
Apparently, none other than Michael Jackson himself had lobbied for a role in the blockbuster film!
However, the King of Pop didn't want to play a mutant with an over-the-top costume or ridiculous powers. No, Jackson had his heart set on playing the wheelchair-bound telepath and founder of the X-Men, Professor X, in a role that eventually went to Patrick Stewart for three movies.
Jackson made no secret of his affinity for comics over the years (X-Men in particular). In fact, those looking for proof of the singer's love for comics need look no further than some of the items from his personal collection (recently put up for auction). Along with a life-size, molded rubber Batman costume, Jackson's personal stash of comic book swag included a massive Superman statue, numerous life-size Spider-Man statues and a variety of other items die-hard comics fans would likely give up a limb to own.
(ABOVE: Jackson pictured with X-Men writer Stan Lee)
Possibly the most notable connection between Jackson and the comics world, however, is how close the star came to owning Marvel, one of the industry's "Big Two" publishers, in the late '90s. As chronicled by The Comics Journal in an August 2005 article, Jackson met with Stan Lee and Peter Paul of the newly formed Stan Lee Media to investigate the possibility of buying Marvel Comics.
"After we built SLM into a public company with a market cap almost twice Marvel's, we talked with Michael Jackson about teaming up to buy Marvel," the article quotes Paul. "I have a videotape of Michael in our offices for over two hours, seeing what we were doing."
Jim Salicrup, a former Marvel editor who was a writer-editor for SLM during the Jackson meetings, told TCJ that at one point, Jackson asked Lee, "If I buy Marvel, you'll help me run it, won't you?"
While the deal eventually fell through, it certainly offers an interesting "What If?" scenario for comics fans.
(ABOVE: O'Neal in the 1997 superhero film, Steel)
Winters also told the assembled crowd at the panel that former basketball star, Shaquille O'Neal, had wanted a role in X-Men, too. (He did not reveal what part Shaq was gunning for, unfortunately.)
And like MJ, Shaq is known to be a pretty big comic book fan. He has the infamous Superman 'S' tattooed on his bicep, as well as Superman emblems splattered throughout his various houses -- everywhere from the bottom of the pool to the bathroom!
The Superman connection goes further: Shaq also starred in a cheesy 1997 superhero film, Steel, based on the DC Comics character John Henry Irons, who first appeared in 1993 during the Reign of the Supermen! storyline in the Superman comic book titles.
Now that's a super fan for you. (Pardon the lame pun.)
However, apart from dropping in stunning little tidbits like the Jackson story, the main thrust of the conference talk was about whether studios should continue to film in 3D.
Lauren Shuler Donner, another X-Men producer, revealed that X-Men: First Class was never going to be that gimmicky. "We chose not to do 3D," Donner told the audience. "I believe the movie itself tells you whether it should be 3D. And I believe there's a little too much 3D right now. I think, especially in this economy, parents don't always want to spend that extra money."
Sources - 1, 2, 3
LOL I would've paid good money to see this. Absolute train-wreck . . . or the most entertaining thing to happen to a superhero flick? You decide. XD